For sale: Andris' sneakers, hardly worn.
Either way, the Andris Biedrins basketball experience is over — at least in Utah, maybe everywhere. The Latvian center was waived by the Jazz yesterday, making room for the team to claim rookie big man Erik Murphy.
Biedrins' time in Utah was always going to be limited. He was in the last year of a contract and hadn't been able to make an impact on the floor in quite a while before he was traded to the Jazz, as salary cap in a deal essentially for a draft pick.
His line for the season: six games, 45 minutes, 17 rebounds, two turnovers and three points. He hit the only field goal he attempted and went 1-for-6 from the line.
"I don’t think it's anything to do with form," Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone, a former Golden State assistant, told me when I asked him about Biedrins' free throw shooting earlier this year. "I think it’s a confidence thing. He was not always such a poor free-throw shooter. But this game … so much of it is mental. The biggest part of it for Andris, not just from the foul line but from a whole basketball standpoint, is confidence. You go back 4-5 years ago, when he was playing with confidence, he was one of the best young big men in the NBA."
By the end, Biedrins was anything but confident. He was an affable guy in the locker room, and by all accounts he took care of his work in practice. But he hadn't played in a game since mid-December and was on a recent streak of being inactive.
In his place, the Jazz have acquired Murphy, a 6-10 forward with some range.
"Big guys who can step out and shoot can be complementary to our group," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said yesterday. "And Erik is a super shooter."
Lindsey likes Murphy's pedigree: both his parents played the game at a high level; his father had a four-year run in the NBA and his mother was a member of the Finnish national team. He's also been coached by Billy Donovan at Florida and Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.
Murphy was waived by the Bulls, but not before making some fans there.
From the Chicago Tribune:
"I'm so happy for him because he works way too hard not to be in the league," Taj Gibson said. "Being a rookie on this team is tough sometimes. You really have to be patient."
Coach Tom Thibodeau revealed he fielded several calls from around the league for a scouting report on Murphy.
"A guy with that skill set is going to have a very good future in this league," Thibodeau said. "He can shoot. He's a lot tougher than people realize. He's smart. He's driven. He plays with energy every day. And those type of guys always get better."
Murphy was a second-round pick by the Chicago Bulls last June. He appeared in 24 games, averaging 2.6 points before being waived on Thursday. In his four years at Florida, Murphy averaged 7.7 points and shot better than 43 percent from 3. He was a First Team All-SEC selection and an AP Honorable Mention All-American his senior year.
He'll wear No. 33 with the Jazz.
For the Jazz, similar to the acquisition of Malcolm Thomas, this is a chance to look at another young player as the team heads into the offseason. They'll have a chance to look at him in practice, summer league and in open gym sessions.
More the one of you has questioned the purpose of signing Thomas — and now Murphy — when minutes have been and likely will continue to be scarce. But Lindsey and the front office is still able to evaluate these players.
"There are only so many minutes to go around and our young players are already taking up a majority of them," Lindsey said yesterday. But the GM is watching and taking notes and stressed that it's still valuable to have these up-close looks. "[Saturday], Malcolm had a terrific practice. There was a lot of contact. We saw Malcolm block shots and show his athleticism."
He'll have a front-row seat to inspect Murphy's game, too.
— Aaron Falk
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